In an unexpected development, AT&T Inc. said Tuesday it is replacing CTO Chris Rice, who will take a new role with the company. No clear reason was given for the move, which would seem to signify a greater emphasis on sales and marketing.
The company has appointed John Donovan as CTO, saying he will oversee the company’s global technology direction and innovation road map, including product development, network and engineering operations, AT&T Labs and the security and intellectual property organizations. AT&T said Rice assumes the new role of executive vice president of shared services.
“This change marks an important step in our mission to connect people where they live and work,” said John Stankey, AT&T president of telecom operations, in a brief statement. “John Donovan brings the vision and expertise to accelerate the evolution of our strong wireless and wireline network assets and to help deliver the next evolution of converged services.” Stankey did not elaborate.
Donovan previously was executive vice president of product, sales, marketing and operations at Verisign Inc., which provides Internet infrastructure services, such as security offerings. Before that, AT&T said, he was chairman and CEO for inCode Telecom Group Inc. and a director of industry practices for telecom and media at Deloitte Consulting.
“I’m excited to join AT&T at such a dynamic time in the company’s history,” said Donovan, in the same statement. “I look forward to continuing AT&T’s long history of innovation and spearheading the development and deployment of advanced network technologies that will enable the convergence of new voice, data and video services for consumers and businesses.”
The Rice has maintained a high industry profile for years and is generally viewed as a visionary technologist.
“In his new role of EVP Shared Services, Rice will be responsible for supply chain and fleet operations, corporate real estate, global Internet data center applications, and telecom operations support, among other key areas,” according to an AT&T spokesperson.
The CTO change could also represent a greater emphasis on, and importance of, the areas for which Rice is now responsible.